Emfraz is located in Ethiopia
Location in Ethiopia
Coordinates: 12°15′30″N 37°37′45″E / 12.25833°N 37.62917°E / 12.25833; 37.62917Coordinates: 12°15′30″N 37°37′45″E / 12.25833°N 37.62917°E / 12.25833; 37.62917
ZoneSemien Gondar
(2005 est.)
 • Total9,162
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)

Emfraz or Enfraz (also spelled Imfraz, Infraz, Amharic: እምፍራዝ imfrāz or እንፍራዝ infrāz. Also called Guba'e, Ge'ez: ጉባኤ gūbā'ē, "assembly" and Guzara, Amharic: ጉዛራ, gūzārā)[1] is an historic town and district in northern Ethiopia. Located in the mountainous area overlooking the northeast shore of Lake Tana in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, it sits at a latitude and longitude of 12°15′30″N 37°37′45″E / 12.25833°N 37.62917°E / 12.25833; 37.62917.

Emfranz is located on the all-weather asphalt road which connects Bahir Dar to Gondar. With improvements to this road and the advent of electrical service, since 2005 Emfranz has become an important market center for fish from Lake Tana.[2]


The earliest notice of Emfraz was in the 14th century, when Gebre Iyasu, a disciple of Ewostatewos, founded a monastery there.[3] The Imam Ahmad Gragn camped there during the rainy season of 1543, after he defeated Cristovão da Gama at the Battle of Wofla. The Emperor Menas later used it as his camp during the rainy season of 1559,[4] and thereafter it was favored as an administrative center by the succeeding Emperors: Sarsa Dengel spent the rainy season there three times between 1571 and 1580, then every rainy season for four years beginning with 1585, eventually building a stone castle there, possibly modelled on the Ottoman fort at Debarwa.[5]

Despite the move of the capital to Gondar, Emfraz still retained some importance in the following years. When the European traveler Charles Jacques Poncet visited the town around 1700, he compared it favorably to Gondar. He describes how it was an important marketplace for slaves and civet, favored by Ethiopian Muslims because there they could openly practice their religion, unlike in Gondar.[6] The Emperor Tewoflos held his coronation in Emfraz a few years later.

While over the next fifty years Emfraz declined in importance when James Bruce visited the town he remarked on its trade in blue Surat cloth.[7]

Records at the Nordic Africa Institute website records that by 1967 the Ethiopian Telecommunications Company had a pay telephone station in this town, but no telephone subscribers.[8]


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, Emfraz has an estimated total population of 9,162, of whom 4,375 were males and 4,787 were females.[9] The 1994 census reported this town had a total population of 5,302 of whom 2,302 were males and 3,000 were females. It is one of four towns in Gondar Zuria woreda.


  1. ^ Hiob Ludolf refers to the town as Gubae, or "Assembly", and stated that it was the residence of the Queen of Ethiopia.
  2. ^ Gordon A, Sewmehon Demissie Tegegne and Melaku Tadesse, "Marketing systems for fish from Lake Tana, Ethiopia: Opportunities for improved marketing and livelihoods" Archived 2015-12-01 at the Wayback Machine, IPMS (Improving Productivity and Market Success) of Ethiopian Farmers Project Working Paper 2 (2007). ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. (accessed 5 May 2009)
  3. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p.208
  4. ^ Pankhurst, Richard K. P. (1982). History of Ethiopian Towns. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 94.
  5. ^ Pankhurst, History, p. 96. According to Pankhurst, the ruins of this structure can still be seen.
  6. ^ William Foster, or, The Red Sea and Adjacent Countries (London, Hakluyt Society, 1949), pp. 136, 143
  7. ^ Pankhurst, History, pp. 97f
  8. ^ "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 3 June 2008)
  9. ^ CSA 2005 National Statistics Archived November 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Table B.4

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